Behind the Scenes: Rosé of Pinot Noir Debut

Imagery is key when launching a new product and we knew the best person to help capture the essence of Layer Cake’s new Rosé of Pinot Noir: food and lifestyle photographer Matt Armendariz.

We flew down and spent two days in his naturally lit, loft-style photo studio in Long Beach, CA. We were graced with his talent, props, equipment and stylists to help us achieve the perfect shot for our upcoming launch. The goal was to make the wine look as good as it tastes. We succeeded.

Few know just how much it takes to get the perfect shot, especially one as important as this for our new product release. For this, we were extremely grateful to have Matt’s expertise. Once we were happy the the final shot, it was time to bring the ad to life.

That’s when we turned to Zentiv creative agency in Santa Rosa, CA to help the ad jump off the page. You can see our beautiful new ad in the latest editions of Wine Spectator, Food & WineWine & Spirits, Wine Enthusiast, Sunset and many more. We believe it captures the essence of the wine, and are excited to share it with you all. Cheers.

Wine and Food Pairings for Your Home Brunch

Brunch has gained a lot of popularity in the past few years, and for good reason. Between the upscale food and the tasty cocktails, brunch has everything you need to have a truly relaxing weekend. Many restaurants and wineries have started offering special brunch menus on weekend mornings. But sometimes, you don’t feel like going out. For those days that you want the comfort of your own home, but still want a relaxing brunch with friends, we have some brunch hosting tips for you!

Plan a Theme

Every meal is better with a theme, especially when entertaining! Choose a common element to tie your brunch together. You could choose a region-inspired brunch, serving dishes from places like Italy or New Orleans, and picking décor and music to match.

Or maybe you want a food theme! Try a veggie-only brunch, or pick a main entrée dish and choose sides and drinks to match!

Other themes could include colors, time periods, or even pop culture references. The sky is your limit! Choosing a theme makes it easier for everyone to pitch in while still having a cohesive brunch meal. This way your brunch will be a team effort and no one person will have to do all the work. More fun for everyone!

Think about Prep

If you want your brunch to run smoothly, think about the flow of traffic between food prep and food consumption. Prep as much of your meal as possible before your guests arrive. Put baked goods in the oven as your guests arrive, to be enjoyed after your first drinks.

Create a station for light food and drink prep. If you’re looking for maximum convenience, look at these wine tasting centers that store wine bottles, glasses, and have counter-space for drink prep. With drawers to store your bottle opener and silverware, you can make this your brunch supply station and be ready for brunch any time! Some even have room for seating and double as a table!

Pair Fantastic Food with Wonderful Wine

Now for what you’re really here for: the food! Here are some ideas to get you started planning your brunch meal:

  • Flatbread is a great finger food and easy to pair with other dishes. Try some simple herbs, smoked salmon and prosciutto on grilled flatbread. It’d go great with Layer Cake Chardonnay or a crisp, Sauvignon Blanc to balance out the salt in the smoked salmon.
  • Want your brunch to have fresh, homegrown food? Plan ahead and plant a pesto garden! Then all your brunches can have a lovely pesto for pizza, pasta, flatbread, or bruschetta!
  • Pair a French Toast (or as the French call it, Pain Perdu) with a homemade berry jam and the fruity Layer Cake Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • Looking to add some whimsy to your meal? Check out this A-Z guide to edible flowers. There are recipes for rose jam, yucca hash, and more! You can even make your own Dandelion Wine as an after-brunch palate cleanser. Edible flowers are an easy and unique addition to any meal, more information can be found at Sharie’s Berries Guide to Edible Flowers as well.
  • Stock up on your favorite Champagne or sparkling wine and some fresh citrus juices (orange, grapefruit, tangerine, etc.) for a low-maintenance mimosa bar!
  • Want to give your guests an option with a little zing? Try these Buttermilk and Sharp Cheddar Biscuits with Brown Sugar Cured Ham & Pepper Jelly.

These are just a few fun ideas for your next wine-centric brunch with close friends and family. What’s your favorite brunch pairing? Share in the comments!

Submitted by Layer Cake Wines fan, Jeriann Watkins

Home Garden: Tomatoes

The purpose of a home garden brings about different reasons for all of us.  Many can look to our family heritage and traditions handed down by each generation to support and feed the family.  Friends use gardening as a tool to relieve anxiety and the challenges we experience in our daily lives. In my experience, it is not one reason alone that draws us to our backyard gardens but a combination of personal thoughts and feelings that allows a garden to flourish.

For me, the home garden stirs childhood memories spending early mornings with my mother weeding and poking around the garden in search of the next hidden surprise that we could harvest and bring to the kitchen.

One of the fondest memories I have growing up was the joy and excitement brought about by picking the first vine ripe tomatoes of the season with mom. To this day, I vividly remember the tomatoes being warm from the afternoon sun and smell of the vines, even after all the years that have passed I can’t harvest tomatoes from the garden and not have that memory coming racing to mind.

Our ritual would be the first meal – tomato sandwiches! Mom always had grandma’s homemade bread ready and waiting, lightly toasted to ‘just’ golden brown.  A generous slathering of mayo for both sides of the bread and then we piled on thick slices of tomatoes with a hint a salt. The first bite never ceased to amaze us and always brought a smile to our faces. Now that I am in the kitchen the routine hasn’t changed; the only difference is that now we each have our own gardens and I must call Mom and share the memories while we talk on the phone.

Tomatoes bring back memories every season, and they provide a launching point for creating other delectable dishes. A favorite of our team is the sweet 100’s and sun gold tomatoes. We love them so much we dedicated a bruschetta recipe to them and paired them with our Layer Cake Rosé of Pinot Noir.

The ‘summer’ gardening days are over; however, it is not official until a gathering of family and friends to grab the last flats of tomatoes from the vines for canning.  A ‘harvest party’ of sorts, complete with our favorite bottles of Layer Cake Wine, that allows us to capture tomatoes in all their glory to enjoy during the winter days ahead.

Passing Through: 48 Hours in Paso Robles

Halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles lies one of California’s not-so-best-kept secrets: Paso Robles Wine Country. Not only is it home to two of our beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards, but it’s a perfect getaway spot. Sneak away for a weekend and consider a few of our suggestions:

Day One: Explore the shops and cafe’s surrounding Paso Robles’ downtown square, make sure not to miss the Paso Robles General Store. The shop encompasses everything the region has to offer. You’re guaranteed to find a unique piece of Paso to take home with you. Grab coffee at Kreuzberg and pair it with cookies from Brown Butter Cookie Co. The perfect pre-lunch snack.

The Paso Robles General Store. Known for amazing local gifts.

When you’re ready for lunch, enjoy tapas and a craft cocktail at La Cosecha or go French at Bistro Laurent before heading to the westside for an afternoon of wine tasting. Use the Paso Robles Wine Alliance directory of amazing wineries to find the perfect stops for you. Or continue on HWY 46 West until you reach the coast. Want to keep exploring? Drive north to Hearst Castle to experience a piece of California’s “rich history” first hand. Pun intended.

Return to Paso Robles in time for dinner. You can’t go wrong indulging at Artisan or Thomas Hill Organics. Two restaurants with welcoming ambiance that focuses on local ingredients. (Reservations recommended). Then return to your room for a great night’s sleep at The Paso Robles Inn, right across the town square.

Thomas Hill Organics: The definition of Farm to Table.

Day Two: Mix it up and explore the east side’s wineries. Look back at the winery directory or simply drive down HWY 46 East until you see signs. Instead of returning to town for lunch, enjoy it overlooking the greens and ponds at Hunter Ranch Golf Course Restaurant.

Keep an eye out for concerts happening at Vina Robles Amphitheater and hit two birds with one stone: wine tasting and big music names all in one place. As for attire, summer in Paso Robles can be warm; shorts, collard shirts and sun dresses will get you in any door. Just make sure to bring a hat for those sunny days and a light jacket when it cools down after sunset.

If you hit half of this list, consider your trip a success. Cheers!

Movies, Popcorn & Pairings

In wine country, we pair wine with everything. We don’t just limit it to elaborate home-cooked meals or elegant restaurant, multi-course dining experiences. A favorite pairing is as simple as a glass of wine and a trusty bowl of popcorn.

We’re lucky in the fact that most movie theaters in wine country offer beer and wine while you enjoy a 90 minute escape from reality in a dark theater with comfy seating. A trend that is quickly spreading across the country with approximately 700 cinemas nationwide serving alcohol.

But what wine works best with that large bag of popcorn? Here are a few of our suggestions:

Butter is Better

If you’re a movie-theater-butter kind of popcorn eater, pair it with a classic Layer Cake Chardonnay. The preserved lemon, guava, pineapple and light, creamy texture of whipped lemon curd balance the oh-so delectable butter, while the butter enhances the French oak aging of the wine.

Just the Salt

Hold the butter and opt for just sea salt? Pair it with a Layer Cake Sauvignon Blanc. The layers of ripe mango, gooseberry and white peaches in the wine will quench the thirst the salt creates.

If you’re more of a stay-at-home, Netflix and Chill kind of movie-goer and feel adventurous with your popcorn accoutrement, try our chef’s recipe for Caramelized Wild Mushrooms with Organic Popcorn and pair it with Layer Cake Pinot Noir.

So, go for a classic or do some experimenting; whatever you choose, you can’t go wrong enjoying a glass of wine with your popcorn. You’ll find us at the cinema this weekend checking out the new release, “Home Again” staring Reese Witherspoon. We noticed she enjoys a little Layer Cake Sauvignon Blanc too.

Home Again Movie by Open Road Films, In Theaters September 2017